In a footnote to his paper God and Objectivism: A Critique of Objectivist Philosophy of Religion published in JARS, Stephen Parrish says
I find it difficult to ascertain exactly what Objectivists believe about the mind and the body. They reject substance dualism, yet also reject any sort of reductionism. It seems to me that their view of the mind-body relation is a sort of nonreductive physicalism. In this view, what really exists is matter—specifically, the brain, and the mind supervenes on, or is realized by the brain. This means that the mind does not exist apart from the brain, but cannot be reduced to it, by which it is meant that it cannot be totally explained in terms of the physical makeup of the brain. Writes William Thomas (n.d.a) on the mind-body relation:
What we call the mind is the set of capacities to be aware, to perceive the world, to think about it, to feel, to value, to make choices. How do these capacities arise? In many respects, the answer to that question must come from science, not philosophy. But everything we know indicates that they are the product of biological evolution and that they depend on our physical sense organs and brain, as well as on the many other support structures that the body provides.
Even the above, is not all that clear and could be interpreted in terms of either property dualism or nonreductive physicalism. I think that the latter fits in better with the overall picture of reality that Objectivists espouse. Actually, the mind-body problem is another area in which Objectivists need to work. …
Get to work, Objectivists!
Tell me, do you accept or reject substrate independence? Substrate independence is the claim that
conscious minds could in principle be implemented not only on carbon-based biological neurons (such as those inside your head) but also on some other computational substrate such as silicon-based processors.
In other words
what allows you to have conscious experiences is not the fact that your brain is made of squishy, biological matter but rather that it implements a certain computational architecture.
Do you accept or reject this claim?
[Cross-posted to The Third Watch.]